My Hero Academia – My thoughts on the Joint Training Arc

A little late to the party, but I feel like I should really give my thoughts before I get left in the dust with this series. I am still watching a bunch of anime, despite what my relative silence on my blog would imply otherwise. It’s just a matter of me playing catch up.

This arc felt a little slow to me. Honestly, it’s just a problem series like My Hero inevitably suffer through when their reach their later seasons. It’s the shonen escalation problem, but My Hero Academia in particular started off so strongly when it came to assigning stakes and this arc kind of dropped the ball a little for me.

From a personal standpoint, I was a massive fan of the first two seasons of My Hero because it was able to assign real personal stakes to every single arc for Midoriya. If anything it made the more mundane school events seem far more important than the events in which the villains showed up.

As the series went on though, and Midoriya proved himself capable without destroying his own body on a daily basis, these events started to lose their weight a little and become the fluffier, more light-hearted parts of the series that you’d expect. Which isn’t a criticism; at a certain point, your main character needs to stop lagging behind and start feeling like he belongs in this school.

So, as we progressed through the story, the realities of hero work started to sink in deeper and deeper to these 15/16 year old kids. With them realising how grim of a business this work could end up being. And so after the Overhaul arc, the Gentle Arc (in which protecting Eri’s smile was just about as high as stakes could get in my book) and the Endeavour fight against the Nomu: a regular school event fell a little flat for me.

To me, I think the series has passed the threshold between being a series about kids in school and being a series about heroes. We’ve spent enough time with the Pros at this point that I feel like that’s the aspect of the story that needs to carry the weight of the series now. Which it seems like this Endeavour Agency arc will be covering.

It never really felt like there was anything on the line in this arc beyond it being a training exercise in which we actually got to see every member of Class-B in action and how their Quirks all work. The actual weight of the arc comes solely from Hitoshi Shinso; the kid from the business class who Midoriya fought during the Sports Festival back in season 2.

Shinso is an interesting character, no doubt. He wants to be a hero, yet is held back by a Quirk that is difficult to show off in examination style situations like the one we saw back in season 1. As well as his Quirk being naturally kind of sinister due to it’s nature. Something more likely seen in possession of a villain. It’s one of the things I do really appreciate about Horikoshi’s writing.

He takes personalities and powers usually associated with a certain type of characters in comic book history and flips them on their head by mixing them with other kinds of characters. Giving us heroes with rotten personalities or putting bad guy quirks on good people.

Shinso reminds me a lot of young Aizawa, who I know about from reading the Vigilantes spinoff manga. They both have powerful Quirks, but they’re hyper-specific in their uses, meaning they both needed to work extra hard to show their value. Something Aizawa eventually managed to do despite his gloomy personality. Which is maybe why he feels some kind of kinship with Shinso, seeing a lot himself in the younger kid.

So, while no doubt Shinso’s desire to join the Hero Course is the dramatic weight behind the arc, because he’s only really present in two of the five battles throughout the arc, that weight is kind of lost throughout a decent middle chunk of the entire arc. Throughout which I feel is all just fluff. But not bad by any means, but not super important in the grand scheme of things.

Plus, by the time we get to the final battle, Shinso’s big rematch against Deku is kind of overshadowed by One for All going nuts and Midoriya discovering he has access to the Quirks of former holders of One for All. In a very violent and explosive fashion. The outcome of which is this strange reaffirmation of Shinso deeming Midoriya as his friendly rival after the events of the Sport’s Festival and using his brainwashing to snap Deku out of his rampage.

After which Class A pretty handily defeat Class C + Shinso.

So, by the time the arc is over, Shinso’s story and the weight of his personal stake in potentially getting transferred into the hero course is overshadowed by Deku’s personal revelation and the discovery of him getting a whole new Quirk, as well as the idea that he could be getting up to five other new Quirks on top of that. Which ends up feeling like it was the entire point of the arc to begin with.

Which make’s Shinso’s presence in the whole thing a big red herring.

So, in the end this arc of My Hero Academia just breezed by without feeling like it was super important or without me feeling super invested in the events we saw throughout. Unlike the earlier arcs in the series in which Midoriya felt some undue pressure to actually perform and prove he was worthy of being a part of the hero course, he has already established himself as one of the more capable members of Class-A.

Not only that, he was the kid who took down Overhaul. Performing a feat of pro heroism without a scratch on him by the time the fight was over. As far as Hero society is concerned, Deku has a bright future ahead of him.

Shinso, on the other hand, isn’t afforded that same weight. It comes from him being a background character and us not really having any insight into his past or his drive to be a hero beyond the same feelings that every other kid in both of the hero classes have behind them.

So ultimately it falls a little flat for me.

We had some good action and seeing how the kids have evolved and grown their quirks is cool. But in the end this arc just didn’t reach the same emotional or dramatic weight that the preceding handful of storylines managed. I also suspect it will be greatly overshadowed by the events that follow considering how heavily involved both Hawks and Endeavour already seem to be.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of this series goes, as I felt like the Endeavour fight at the end of the previous series was top tier stuff and I really want more of that. As an aside though, I have buckled and started reading the manga from the beginning. I’m not caught up to the anime just yet, but I think I’ll stop when I get to this arc.

But once this season is over I’m going to just catch up on the manga and see where the story goes there. Which will really change my perspective on this series when the next series eventually comes out.

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